Kinect Helps in Surgery

While some games out there might give you headaches Microsoft Research is working with a group of London super brains to enable touchless viewing and manipulation of images while performing vascular surgery with the help of Kinect.

With this tech, complex aneurysm procedures are made easier and safer because surgeons can more easily maintain a sterile environment because they don’t need to manipulate equipment and they no longer need to rely on fallible human assistance to properly manipulate the visual-aid equipment.

“Until recently I was shouting out across the operating theatre to tell someone to go up, down, left right,” explains Doctor Tom Carrell. “But with the Kinect I’m able to get the position that I want quickly – and also without me having to handle non-sterile things like a keyboard or mouse during the procedure.”

The only downside to this innovation is that you’d have to be some sort of brain surgeon to use it.

Kinect in Spaaaaace!

The incredible space geniuses at The University of Surrey and Surrey Satelite Technology Limited (SSTL) are using Kinect tech to develop a twin-satelite in-orbit docking system called ‘STRaND-2’.

SSTL Project Lead Shaun Kenyon explained: “We were really impressed by what MIT had done flying an autonomous model helicopter that used Kinect and asked ourselves: Why has no-one used this in space? Once you can launch low cost nanosatellites that dock together, the possibilities are endless – like space building blocks.”

You can keep track of their progress via the STRaND Facebook Page and even follow them on Twitter @SurreyNanosats

Kudo and Dean Talk Kinect

Today on Venture Beat, game-industry super news guy Dean Takahashi and super star Kinect “Cheerleader” Kudo Tsunoda chatted all about Kinect and content.

They discussed game developer’s gradual adoption of Kinect features as everyone learned which parts of the Kinect could work for existing games as well as how it could enhance the experience for players.

“In lots of ways you see Kinect, especially in the core areas, in some ways being put into franchises that already exist. I think about a game like Mass Effect 3, and I don’t think necessarily the motion technology of Kinect in any way really dictates what goes into the game and what doesn’t as much as that game is perfectly suited f

Kudo explained.
 “Fable: The Journey, coming out this holiday, will be using the

the motion technology, and it has really good fidelity in the motion technology. It is improving over time to drive a more core gaming experience. I think we’re proving out things in Kinect all the time — building new things. Allowing creative people to use Kinect to bring a different type of functionality in a way that makes sense for their franchises.”

New technologies can be tricky to master, but here we are a year and a half after the launch of Kinect and many developers are starting to get the hang of it!

“People understand better how to develop on any kind of technology. You’re going to get better performance, better experiences, new inventions over time.” Kudo observes. “I think that’s why you see Kinect branching off into all different genres of games now. It’s because developers are able to do more with the technology as they’ve become more experienced in working with it.”

Want to read more from this conversation? Head on over to Venture Beat to read the whole thing!

Which game franchises do you think should try to add Kinect features? Offer your opinions in the comments!

Kinect for Windows SDK 1.5 is Now Available!

This just in from the incredible whiz-kids over on the Kinect for Windows team — They’ve just released version 1.5 of the Kinect for Windows runtime and SDK.

They’ve added more capabilities to help you brilliant developers make cool things!

  • Face Tracking with a real-time 3D mesh of facial features tracking the head position, location of eyebrows, etc
  • Seated skeletal tracking!
  • Improved performance and data quality enhancements to permit RGB and depth data to be mapped together (e.g. “green screen”)
  • All new samples!
  • Many more (for full details read the Team Blog post here)

They’ve also made Kinect for Windows hardware available in Hong Kong, South Korea, Singapore, and Taiwan — with 15 more countries starting next month! To learn all 31 countries Kinect for Windows will be available in check out the Kinect for Windows blog!

Kinect Tech Helps Microsoft Research See with Sound

We’ve got a ton of space geniuses here at Microsoft. Our team isn’t the only one working to make Kinect smarter, faster, and stronger. Microsoft Research has some pretty incredible whiz kids that have recently used Kinect to help innovate a new gesture-based motion “controller” that doesn’t actually need any sort of controller, including the Kinect, to work!

Project SoundWave utilizes the existing speakers and microphone built into a PC or notebook to detect your movement. The speakers emit inaudible tones in the 18 – 22 KHz range (your cats and dogs are safe). SoundWave then uses the same system’s microphone to pick up these tones as they are bounced back by your failing hands and arms. The tones are passed through a detection algorithm and any frequency shifts detected are processed to figure out what in the world you’re trying to do!

Want to see it in action? Watch the video below!